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WEEKLY BYT GUIDE TO DVD RELEASES / ON DEMAND / INSTANT NETFLIXING
December 17, 2013 | 2:00PM

Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us. Now all you need is someone to watch these movies with:

OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:

  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    No one pays attention to the destruction in the phrase, “Love conquers all.” Most think it means that love is the most important thing, or celebratory. It can be, but to conquer something is dangerous. When love conquers all, there is plenty of collateral damage. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, the new dramatic thriller from David Lowery, is about two people who deeply love each other, almost past the point of ruin. Lowery shoots rural Texas with unhurried pleasure and the movie plods along at a similar pace. This unfolds like a cinematic yarn, the most relaxed form of storytelling, which is fine until it’s time to get to the point.
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  • Elysium. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Whenever a musician makes a big splash with their first album, there’s always an itching worry in the back of your skull. Will their next album remain artistically vibrant, expanding on what came before? Or just play it safe and retool what worked the first time? The question applies to writer-directors too. And as much as I’d like to say otherwise, Neill Blomkamp took the “play it safe” route with Elysium.
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OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • The World’s End. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    I’m not quite sure how to compare The World’s End to the previous work of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. In some ways it’s weaker: the writing duo delivers fewer gut-bustingly hilarious moments here than they did in Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, nor is it nearly the perfectly-aimed genre send-up that those other films were. On the other hand, The World’s End is rougher, darker, and more serious, as if Wright and Pegg finally ran out of jokes and pop culture references and fell back to doing something genuinely character-driven instead. The acting and character development is especially note-worthy.
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INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • Prince Avalanche: Here’s what we said in our original review:
    In 2008, director David Gordon Green made two films, Snow Angels, his last film that could be seen in consideration to call him “the next Malick,” and Pineapple Express, Gordon’s first trek into the world of mainstream studio comedies. Almost as if Apatow’s crew had kidnapped Green, his career made a complete trajectory change into the world of pot-fueled medieval parodies (Your Highness) and man-child growth lessons (The Sitter). The talented director had seemed to have gone from stylistic auteur to generic comedy director. In Prince Avalanche, though – which Green has said he directed to get back to his more independent film beginning and was shot in secret – he melds his previously uncanny style and quiet dissection of character with a comedic sensibility that seems to have been honed over his last few years of mediocre disappointments.
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  • The Imposter. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The Imposter is the rare documentary that also doubles as a thriller. It may mostly consist of recreations and talking heads, but director Bart Layton uses an ingenious structure so that we’re constantly craving more information. His inventive compositions recall Errol Morris films, particularly The Thin Blue Line, so it’s all the more remarkable that The Imposter is Layton’s first feature-length film. He knows how to tell a story with building unease, and his sympathetic interviews are a heartbreaking depiction of self-delusion.
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  • Blackfish. Here’s what we said in our original interview with the filmmaker and her subject:
    SeaWorld wants you to think that Orcas, or Killer Whales, are cute and cuddly. They’re far more complex and deadly than that. Sure, they’re highly intelligent mammals whose sense of family is stronger than ours, but they’re also deadly predators, capable of jumping fifteen feet into the air to catch its prey. SeaWorld has built its empire on ignoring their complex biology, which might explain why whales in captivity behave erratically. Documentary filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite heard about the death of Dawn Brancheau, a seasoned whale trainer, who was dragged into a pool by an orca. By digging deeper into the story of her death, Cowperthwaite uncovered SeaWorld’s disquieting history. All her interviews and research culminates with Blackfish, a searing documentary that’s effective because of how it holds back. Instead of pummeling the viewer with emotionally manipulative material, it invites them to make their own conclusions. When Blackfish had its local premiere at the AFI DOCS festival, I had a chance to chat with Cowperthwaite and Samantha Berg, a former SeaWorld trainer who now works as an anti-captivity advocate.
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That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. What are you watching? Let us know in the comments!

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